Volume 95, Issue 49

Wednesday, November 28, 2001
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Women find ways to win

Shocked in the wolves' den

Swimmers heat up the pools

Squash balls are bouncing in

Nimble sporty thumbs

Nimble sporty thumbs

The man from Nantucket
Colin Butler
Managing Editor

I have never at any point in my life been a premiere athlete.

That doesn't mean I have an unhealthy disdain for sports – far from it. Rather, I've always appreciated the strategies and tactics involved in the sporting world.

I regret never partaking in more of the macho, caveman antics that came with team play and the brow-beating jockocracy of the playing field. But, as a child, I suffered from a strange physical anomaly – my head seemed to have its own gravitational field.

My skull has seen the impact of every ball ever stitched together by an Indonesian child. I honestly have several scars that say 'Wilson' and 'Spalding' emblazoned on various parts of my head.

Despite the multiple concussions and resulting brain damage, I didn't stop admiring the quick-thinking and nimble physical prowess required of athletes.

Since I couldn't play with the big boys (you know, the ones with depth perception) and my friends and I lived so far apart from each other, I never played sports. Instead, I did what anyone too young to buy alcohol would do in my situation – I played video games.

I remember it all started with Nintendo's Ice Hockey. Mary, mother of Christ, what a great game.

I wonder how many hours I wasted playing those games, each one nurturing the arterioscleroses that will eventually kill me through massive cardiac failure. As the technology behind the games becomes better, my doomed existence as a plaque-veined couch jock becomes increasingly hopeless.

Programmers have mastered every aspect of the sportscast, from witty play-by-play commentary, to player injuries, even the frenzied rabble of fans in the crowd.

Virtual athletes are gods – they can do anything you want them to do. They never go on strike, they never get caught with hookers or under the influence of hard drugs. They can be ideal role models for children, available at the touch of a button and always able to deliver whatever the person on the other end of the controller expects.

They're an example of how a person's success is only limited by their will to achieve it – they teach us you can go as far as you want to.

The athletic world's snakepit politics of venomous egos and million-dollar salaries disappear, leaving only the love of the game and the sheer pleasure of trying to outmanoeuvre the other guy.

Sports video games teach kids that when you play sports for real, it's just a game and should never go any further – never get mad, never make it personal and always have fun.

So, maybe all those video games weren't a waste of time afterall.

They teach some valuable lessons and you'll never get "Nintendo" scarred on your forehead.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001